24 February 2012
Although there is no certainty as to who Wat was, with some believing he was a king of Mercia and others saying that he did not exist at all, and with the name Wat being a personal name during the Anglo-Saxon period, and even that the word could also mean wet or rough, the only certainty is that the dyke exists.
When the dyke was constructed is again another mystery. Until relatively recently, many historians had thought the dyke was an eighth century Mercian near-contemporary of the more famous Offa’s Dyke, that runs parallel and to the west of Wat’s Dyke are now having to re-think their theories. Recent research however has dated its construction at between 411 and 561AD.
The Dyke was built through the borderland between Wales and Mercia. This area had already become important, because of the plain and surrounding hills, for settlement and defensive structures. This continued to develop over the following centuries. This was noted by a group of enthusiasts who decided to create a long distance heritage trail on or close to the dyke.
Because of its borderland location this makes the 61 mile/100 km Wats Dyke Way different to the majority of long distance trails. Something of Archaeological and Historical interest is continually being encountered all along the way.
For more information and details of how to obtain the guide book visit http://www.watsdykeway.org/
Post by Ron Williams, Chairman, Wat’s Dyke Way Association.
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